Chihuahua People Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
To start off, I brought Teddy home when he was 11 weeks old. I've discussed the breeder in length in another forum post--basically, we suspect that she has too many dogs to properly socialize her puppies. Teddy was pretty disinterested in the other puppies even when I met him at 9 weeks old. He is very strongly bonded to me, however.

Our other dog, a 2 1/2 year-old Jack Russell rescue is dog aggressive. With clicker training, she's improved somewhat, but she is still a hassle on leash and she can never be trusted off leash with any dog other than Teddy.

Teddy is now 9 1/2 months old. When we brought him home at 11 weeks, we did try to socialize him a lot, but admittedly I don't think we did enough. He was able to meet a miniature pig, a goat, some Greyhounds and Great Danes, people in wheelchairs, kids, people of different ethnicities, etc.

We used to walk Teddy and Zoey together on leash, but we stopped because Zoey goes nuts if she even sees another dog, and Teddy joins in barking. This combined with a lack of socialization with dogs has made for a nervous adolescent puppy. I work in a store that sells dog supplies and natural pet foods. Dogs come and go all day--almost all of them are well-mannered. I've tried to take Teddy to work with me to socialize, but he ends up being a huge disturbance to our customers.

Recently we tried (perhaps more forcibly than intended) to socialize Teddy with a very sweet-tempered and unreactive Boxer. We even got the Boxer to lay down, roll over and expose his belly, etc. Teddy barked at him endlessly and even tried to snap at him when the Boxer wanted to play. I know big dogs make him nervous usually, but Zoey (our Jack Russell) is 22 lbs and my boss's dog is ~45 lbs and he loves them both. I don't get it.

I don't know how to go about socializing him. I want him to get through this fear period before he gets to be a year old. He's so obedient and loving otherwise. :( I think I know a lot about dog training, but I second guess my methods a lot with Teddy because I don't ever want to put him in a situation where a big dog might hurt him accidentally (ie. Rough play, etc.). I also feel like I lack the resources to set Teddy up for success (ie. Many owners willing to participate in training with their bomb-proof dogs).

I am looking into a Small Dog Play Group that is hosted by a certified APDT dog trainer. There are only 3 hour-long courses included, though. What else can I do to help socialize him? I'm too nervous to take him to a dog park.

Help! I want a sociable and friendly Chi who can be an ambassador for the breed, not a stereotypical toy breed dog! He fear barks, growls and lunges, etc. I feel like such a bad dog owner!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
11,989 Posts
Hmmm? Do not coddle him with this behavior for sure. Have you tried http://www.meetup.com/ this is where I found a local Chihuahua group that I get together with. There are also a toy breed group in my area. Maybe you can find one in your area and that would give Teddy a better chance to socialize with dogs his size.

I am sure others here will have some advice as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hmmm? Do not coddle him with this behavior for sure. Have you tried http://www.meetup.com/ this is where I found a local Chihuahua group that I get together with. There are also a toy breed group in my area. Maybe you can find one in your area and that would give Teddy a better chance to socialize with dogs his size.

I am sure others here will have some advice as well.

We try not to coddle him when he's barking at dogs. If I'm holding him, I put him on the ground or turn him away from whatever he's barking at. We try the "removal technique" where we walk him (either holding him or him walking on-leash next to us) away from what he's barking at, trying to give him the impression that he can't go near what he wants to see if he can't do it quietly. We praise him whenever he lapses in barking for even a second, but he doesn't seem to get the drill, or he just doesn't care.

I have seen that Meetup site, but the closest group for small dogs seems to be in Jacksonville, which is sort of far from us. We live in Gainesville, FL.

The Jacksonville Chihuahua Meetup Group guidelines says:
-- "Member dogs cannot be aggressive or uncontrollable, some events will be free-roaming. I do not wish for any animal to be harmed on any outings. In the event that an injury occurs, you will accept full responsibility of you, your dog, your child or your property. We strive for a safe and incident-free event every time, but attend with the knowledge that there is always the possibility of an injury or damaged property."
-- "Don't bring a sick or un-socialized/aggressive dog to an event and put other pets at risk of disease or injury."

I really don't think Teddy would go after another Chihuahua, but it's hard to tell, because he's really only met one other Chihuahua mix and he loves her. All the other dogs he sees are much bigger than him, and I think he gets nervous so he barks and snips at them.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
11,989 Posts
Could you try starting your own group there? Put in it that it would be a socialization group and do not make the rules so sharp. Maybe you will find others in your area with the same problems? You could also try this with your local craigslist? Good Luck, it seems that you are doing all the right things :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
544 Posts
You're now working to over come almost 10 months of "training" by the other dog and the isolation from other dogs. It's not gonna be a quick fix. If you "remove" him from the situation that's making him bark, you're reinforcing the barking. That's why it's not working. He's already learned that barking either makes the other dog go away or he gets to leave, either way, he's getting away from the other dog. First thing this pup needs to learn is "quiet". He also needs to learn "heel." Once he has both of those, you can have him on heel outside a dog friendly store, walking him back and forth as other dogs are entering/leaving. No interactions with the other dogs yet. When you see the dog, reinforce the heel command, turning him in a tight circle around if necessary to distract him from the other dog, as you continue him on heel. If he starts barking, give the quiet command, correction, and continue with the heel. If he can't tolerate this much, sit on a bench with him on the ground, sitting, and as the other dogs go by, if he starts barking, give the quiet command and correct until he is no longer barking when he sees other dogs. Then progress to walking and no barking. Then you can start introducing him to other dogs without barking. Heck, if where you work would allow it, he could be in a wire crate within reach of a quirt bottle, just ignore him unless he barks, and when he does, give quiet command and squirt with water. Fastest way to break the barking. Then you can move forward from there. It's a long process starting this late but you have to keep at it. Work with him independantly from Zoey, whether on a walk or not. He needs no interactions with her and other dogs, as he's learning from her. It's not going to be fun for either of you but you have to make the committment to do it or he'll be like Zoey and be forced to stay home, away from other dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
You're now working to over come almost 10 months of "training" by the other dog and the isolation from other dogs. It's not gonna be a quick fix. If you "remove" him from the situation that's making him bark, you're reinforcing the barking. That's why it's not working. He's already learned that barking either makes the other dog go away or he gets to leave, either way, he's getting away from the other dog. First thing this pup needs to learn is "quiet". He also needs to learn "heel." Once he has both of those, you can have him on heel outside a dog friendly store, walking him back and forth as other dogs are entering/leaving. No interactions with the other dogs yet. When you see the dog, reinforce the heel command, turning him in a tight circle around if necessary to distract him from the other dog, as you continue him on heel. If he starts barking, give the quiet command, correction, and continue with the heel. If he can't tolerate this much, sit on a bench with him on the ground, sitting, and as the other dogs go by, if he starts barking, give the quiet command and correct until he is no longer barking when he sees other dogs. Then progress to walking and no barking. Then you can start introducing him to other dogs without barking. Heck, if where you work would allow it, he could be in a wire crate within reach of a quirt bottle, just ignore him unless he barks, and when he does, give quiet command and squirt with water. Fastest way to break the barking. Then you can move forward from there. It's a long process starting this late but you have to keep at it. Work with him independantly from Zoey, whether on a walk or not. He needs no interactions with her and other dogs, as he's learning from her. It's not going to be fun for either of you but you have to make the committment to do it or he'll be like Zoey and be forced to stay home, away from other dogs.
When we taught him the "speak" (bark) command, we also taught him the "shh" command, which means to cease barking. However, he will usually ignore the command entirely if another dog is too close, and he is above his threshold for stress. In the house, though, he listens every time.

When on the leash, I stop walking if he pulls, and I have taught him that he must walk back to my side in order for us to continue moving forward. When I call him back to me, I pat my leg and say, "Heel." If he is lagging behind I also use the "heel" command. Without any dogs around, he is great on-leash-- he likes to follow, stay right by my side, and make eye contact when I use the "watch me" command. I make a kissy noise to indicate a turn or change of direction, which he follows instantly. But when there's another dog nearby, he just barks and barks.. I seem to fade into the background!

I've heard of using a squirt bottle. I don't want him to hate water, though, since we've been trying to desensitize him to a kiddie pool full of water this summer, nor do I want him to look at another dog and get a squirt and think, "Wow, dogs suck. Every time I look at one I get wet."

Ian Dunbar has a video where he makes a very loud, disapproving noise to the dog, and this startles the dog enough that it feels somewhat ashamed for acting so insane, and settles down. I tried this once in public, and I swear, I must've looked insane myself. :(

Here's the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXQJdh_-TbM&feature=PlayList&p=C63A0731F2A834A8&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=9
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
544 Posts
I've heard of using a squirt bottle. I don't want him to hate water, though, since we've been trying to desensitize him to a kiddie pool full of water this summer, nor do I want him to look at another dog and get a squirt and think, "Wow, dogs suck. Every time I look at one I get wet."
I've never had this reaction to the squirt bottle training. I think the loud sound is a distration, not a shaming technique. Same principle of the water, it distracts them from barking and allows you to refocus them on you. Whatever works for ya, just be consistent.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
6,452 Posts
I used a squirt bottle on Zoey for her barking, it worked quite well. You could take him to puppy classes, maybe they have a small dog class.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
379 Posts
It sounds like Teddy is walking fine on a leash without the distractions of other dogs. I think he needs to some Desensitization and Counter conditioning training. You can Google it for more info but basically, you as soon as Teddy notices another dog you want to deliver a very yummy highly desired treat, like cooked chicken or something. When done right and very consistently Teddy will learn that every time another dog appears a yummy treat appears. You want to start out pretty far from another dog and work very slowly to walking right by a dog. Remember take it very very slow and you have to be very very consistent!!! Eventually, you will wean him off the treats but for now stock up on yummy treats!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
544 Posts
Just be sure you notifiy the other attendees about Teddy's issues. It's not fair to the other puppies and owners to come into a play session unaware that you're using it to train out undesireable behavior. It can be a traumatic experience to puppies and cause them to have dog aggression issues as well. Hence the reason most playgroups don't allow aggressive dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
@LiMarChis: Will do. :) I wouldn't call Teddy aggressive. He's never bitten anybody, and I really don't think he would unless they cornered him or held him down. He just growls and barks a lot, but it wavers in pitch a lot, varying between a growl/bark and a whine. He just seems nervous. He'll quiet for a few seconds once he gets to sniff the other dog's behind, and then resume barking once he sees the front end again. But then he met my co-worker's Chihuahua/Daschund/Lhasa Apso mix, and he was friends with her right away. She weighs probably 6 or 7 lbs. He also met my mom's two dogs and played with them. They weigh about 15-20 lbs. And then, of course, he lives with Zoey, who weighs 22 lbs.

I'm going to take Teddy over to a local dog park that has a "small dogs only" section for dogs under 25 lbs. I'll see how he does, because he really does seem to be fine with small dogs. If he seems too nervous, we'll back up and start with counter-conditioning. I made some liver brownies as a high-value treat, and I need to use them!

PS: Here's the recipe incase you're wondering..


1 package of chicken livers (rinsed and drained)
2 spoonfuls of minced garlic
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of EVO (or another grain-free kibble)
^ EVO/Innova (Natura) was sold to Proctor & Gamble, so when I run out of the bag I have, this will be Orijen instead.

Chop the kibble in a food processor, purée the liver and garlic in a blender, beat the eggs in a bowl. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well. Lightly coat a glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (if desired-- I did it without cooking spray and it came out fine). Pour the mix into the dish evenly. Cook on 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Test with a fork or toothpick in the middle of the dish-- if it comes up wet, then put it back for another 5-10 minutes, then test again. It will still be soft, but as long as the fork doesn't come up wet, take it out of the oven, cut into squares, and let it sit until cool. Store in the fridge, or freeze.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
277 Posts
Brewster has aggression towards new/strange dogs, but only when he is on a leash. A friend of mine, who used to have a Pomeranian, showed me a technique where when the dog barks, you flip him or her over (kinda cradling their neck with their face pointed at your face) and look into their eyes until they break eye contact. This is helping Brew to ease off his aggression and barking towards other dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Brewster has aggression towards new/strange dogs, but only when he is on a leash. A friend of mine, who used to have a Pomeranian, showed me a technique where when the dog barks, you flip him or her over (kinda cradling their neck with their face pointed at your face) and look into their eyes until they break eye contact. This is helping Brew to ease off his aggression and barking towards other dogs.
Don't do this. This is an outdated way of training called "dominance theory" or "alpha theory," and it's based on an old study done on one wolf pack in captivity. It's been found since then (and even admitted by the person who CREATED "alpha theory") that that model was incorrect. We have since discovered that dogs are incredibly opportunistic and learn rather easily through praise and rewards (not bribery) rather than punishment.

The method you're using is actually the most likely method to get you bit by your now-friendly dog. Dogs can have what's called "redirected aggression"--where they start off being aggressive towards something they're looking at, but then turn towards being aggression to the person restraining them. Think of it like being held on your knees in front of a man with a gun. The man may or may not actually be dangerous (he may not shoot you), but you're very likely to try to fight the person holding you down in order to escape, even though they're not the one with the gun.

Staring a dog in the eyes and holding them on their back is a VERY confrontational gesture to a dog. Direct eye contact means "I want to fight you!" and holding the dog on his back creates stress by exposing his vulnerable underside.

De-Bunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory - Whole Dog Journal Article

If You're Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be, Too, Says Veterinary Study at University of Pennsylvania | Penn News
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
277 Posts
Don't do this. This is an outdated way of training called "dominance theory" or "alpha theory," and it's based on an old study done on one wolf pack in captivity. It's been found since then (and even admitted by the person who CREATED "alpha theory") that that model was incorrect. We have since discovered that dogs are incredibly opportunistic and learn rather easily through praise and rewards (not bribery) rather than punishment.

The method you're using is actually the most likely method to get you bit by your now-friendly dog. Dogs can have what's called "redirected aggression"--where they start off being aggressive towards something they're looking at, but then turn towards being aggression to the person restraining them. Think of it like being held on your knees in front of a man with a gun. The man may or may not actually be dangerous (he may not shoot you), but you're very likely to try to fight the person holding you down in order to escape, even though they're not the one with the gun.

Staring a dog in the eyes and holding them on their back is a VERY confrontational gesture to a dog. Direct eye contact means "I want to fight you!" and holding the dog on his back creates stress by exposing his vulnerable underside.

De-Bunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory - Whole Dog Journal Article

If You're Aggressive, Your Dog Will Be, Too, Says Veterinary Study at University of Pennsylvania | Penn News
Whoa, I had no idea.. What technique would you reccomend in place of that? Or what book do you support that doesn't rely on the alpha theory? I just did a Google and found a TIME article debunking the alpha theory, too :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
354 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Whoa, I had no idea.. What technique would you reccomend in place of that? Or what book do you support that doesn't rely on the alpha theory? I just did a Google and found a TIME article debunking the alpha theory, too :(



Classical Conditioning: In this case, every single time your dog sees another dog (whether he is barking or not) he gets treats until the other dog has disappeared from view. This is to change the dog's impression of other dogs. You want to leave him with the idea that seeing dogs = getting treats, and that makes seeing dogs a really fun thing! It's likely that your dog is fearful, and THAT'S the reason why he's being reactive.

Operant Conditioning: Train the dog to turn towards you and look up at your face. This is a CHOICE that the dog makes once his impression of other dogs is a little more positive. He chooses to focus on you rather than the dog because he knows you are the source of good things. You want to reward this behavior to increase its frequency. A dog can't be barking at another dog while simultaneously sitting in front of you waiting for your command.

Book: "Click to Calm" by Karen Pryor

Hope this helps to get you started! :D
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top